11/25/2005, 00.00
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Church opens homeless shelter in Tamil Nadu

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Anbu Illam can host up to 50-60 people. It is a place where one can touch the Love of Christ, where the poor are treated with dignity and given a chance to build their future, says Mgr Thomas Aquinas.

Coimbatore (AsiaNews) – An Anbu Illam (a place for loving care) that serves as an overnight shelter for the poor and homeless was opened on November 22 in Coimbatore, a commercial city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, under the management of the Salesian Society.

The Coimbatore City Corporation Commissioner, Anil Meshram, said the Anbu Illam is "housed in a renovated corporation school, a 4000-Sq.ft (370-sq.m.) centre [that] can accommodate about 50 to 60 people per night".

"The building has been renovated and now has three bathrooms and a large kitchen, where the need have supper and breakfast the following morning," he explained.

The Salesian Anbu Illan Don Bosco will manage the centre and issued personal ID cards to users.

Anbu Illam director Father John said a recent survey revealed that there were about 550 homeless in the city. Every effort will be made to help them get back on their feet, he said.

Doctors will also be able to perform medical check-ups on those staying at the Anbu Illam and, if need be, provided for their hospitalisation.

In an exclusive interview with AsiaNews Thomas Aquinas, Bishop of Coimbatore, said that the "Anbu Illam is a place for true loving care, a place where the Love of Christ is expressed through service to those who are marginalised, poor and dispossessed".

"This shelter will enable us to help children and youth from every caste and creed, young people found wandering or loitering either at the railway stations or the bus terminus, brought to the centre by the Police. Here they are treated with dignity, given a chance for vocational training and self-employment," he added.

More importantly, "it is the police itself that has decided to send these children here.  This in itself says a lot about the value of the social and welfare ministry of the Church".

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